On Tuesday, artist Jessie Brennan came to the RIBA Bookshop to present her book Regeneration! Conversations, Drawings, Archives & Photographs from Robin Hood Gardens. The book was very well received by an engaging crowd that took part in a conversation between Jessie and writer Richard Martin. Amongst our guests we had architects, artists, activists and former residents of the Robin Hood Gardens housing estate who discussed their experiences and ideas about the significance behind the life, evolution and demise of this iconic symbol of social housing in Britain.
This is an important book that closes the last chapter in the history of this London brutalist symbol at the forefront of a heated debate since it was first threatened with demolition. But it is also the beginning of the next chapter in the history of London, a city in the midst of rapid transformation through the process of urban regeneration, which no one yet really knows how to envisage. How will communities transform? How will areas change? Who’s moving out? Who will move in? and what will London life feel like at the end of this process? As London continues to regenerate, more people are joining the debate about the future of our city and the people who live in it. This book seeks to record the unheard voices of some of those at the centre of this change, the residents of Robin Hood Gardens.
The book includes archival photographs and drawings of the estate, as well as conversation pieces with some of the residents of Robin Hood Gardens, essays by Owen Hatherley and Richard Martin, and a set of pull out prints of the artist’s work A Fall of Ordinariness and Light. The drawings are exquisite representations of the estate made with graphite on paper and were commissioned by the Foundling Museum. You can take a look at them by following this link. If you would like to buy prints of the work, you can enquire with one of our booksellers. To buy a copy of the book please come into the shop at 66 Portland Place or visit our website.
Thank you Jessie, Richard and everyone that came to the book launch for helping us make the Bookshop a place that inspires and generates ideas and interesting dialogues.
Conversations, Drawings, Archives & photographs from Robin Hood Gardens
Book launch at RIBA Bookshop
Tuesday 6th October 2015, 6:30 – 8:30
The RIBA Bookshop launches its Autumn events season with the presentation of a new book on Robin Hood Gardens by London based artist Jessie Brennan. Regeneration! Conversations, Drawings, Archives & Photographs from Robin Hood Gardens is a project by the artist seeking to engage the residents of the estate by exploring life in this 1960s symbol of the welfare state.
Robin Hood Gardens has been the subject of much debate since it was first threatened with demolition in 2008. Despite a nation wide campaign backed by Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito and Richard Rogers amongst many other architects calling to protect the estate, the Brutalist housing complex built by the Smithsons was denied a formal heritage listing, and will be demolished to make way for a brand new development in the Poplar area neighbouring Canary Wharf.
In a recent article for Apollo magazine, the artist described her project on Robin Hood Gardens:
“Debates around the estate’s perceived architectural successes and social failures have often focused only on the buildings – on the need for their preservation or demolition – rather than the feelings of people living within the blocks. They have tended to ignore, and at worst misrepresent, the experiences of the people who know the buildings most intimately.
My project, Regeneration!, attempts to address that imbalance in a small but meaningful way by exploring with residents the qualities of a lived-in Brutalism and the personal impact of redevelopment. It began as a series of recorded interviews with long and short term tenants, developed out of the process of making doormat rubbings – a starting point for engaging conversations. The 78 page book brings these together along with architectural plans and archive images, two series of drawings, a set of photographs by former tenant Abdul Kalam, and two essays: Owen Hatherley’s text charts the political decisions that led to the rise and fall of Robin Hood Gardens; Richard Martin’s essays contextualises the project through an analysis of my artwork – A Fall of Ordinariness and Light (pictured above) – and proposes a broader set of questions around the politics of regeneration.”
Jessie Brennan will engage with Richard Martin, writer and author of The Architecture of David Lynch, and former member of the policy team at CABE, in a conversation about the politics and social and cultural impact behind the process of urban regeneration, drawing on the history of the soon to disappear Robin Hood Gardens estate.